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Gracie Elvin Sprints to Second on Opening Stage of Ladies Tour of Qatar

Wed 30 Jan 2013

Gracie Elvin finished second on the first stage of the Ladies Tour of Qatar. The newly crowned Australian National Road Champion initiated the race winning move in what she termed the ‘first big international race’ of her career.

“I wasn’t surprised at Gracie at all,” said Sport Director Dave McPartland. “I expect other teams might have been today, but they won’t be surprised by her for too long. She has good form. We’ve all got good form. We’ve come out of two good training camps in Australia in December and January. The girls in the front group said they were confident in their fitness while some of the other riders were struggling.” 

The opening stage of Ladies Tour of Qatar set off from the Museum of Islamic Art. The field passed through the start/finish line for the first of two intermediate sprints where they encountered a tailwind. A right-hand turn into the crosswind at the 55 kilometre mark set the scene for a selection.

“When we turned into the crosswind, the race blew apart,” said McPartland. “The front group was a bit larger to start. Five or six riders got dropped when the race was in the gutter. By the time things settled down 25 kilometres from the finish, 21 riders lead the race by about 2:30 over the next group of chasers.”

Emma Johansson, Tiffany Cromwell and Elvin had the made the split. Both Johansson and Cromwell took time bonuses on the second intermediate sprint.

“Emma won the second intermediate sprint, so she took a three second time bonus,” explained McPartland. “Tiffany got one second for third on the same sprint. I actually told the girls not to spend too much energy on the intermediate sprints, but they were able to get these seconds easily. We’re pretty confident we can split the race in the crosswinds.”

Twelve kilometres from the finish, Cromwell accelerated away from the front group launching the first of a series of small attacks. Although Cromwell never put lasting distance between herself and the group, her aggression inspired Elvin’s race winning counter-move.

“I had asked Emma to follow wheels and directed the other two to attack,” said McPartland. “I’m very happy with the way they raced.”

Elvin jumped from the front group nine kilometres from the finish. She immediately gained a slight advantage. Chloe Hosking (Hitec Products – UCK) and Lisa Brennauer (Specialized-lululemon) bridged across together. Liesbeth De Vocht (Rabo-Liv-Giant) followed Hosking and Brennauer across the gap. The four riders quickly established a rotation and grew their advantage to 45 seconds.

The quartet eyed each other and their chasers along the wide straight stretch of road leading to the finish line. Their hesitations saw their advantage tumble to ten seconds. Hosking opened the sprint. Elvin matched her increased speed. The two crossed the line shoulder to shoulder with Hosking just barely edging out Elvin for the stage win.

After the first day of racing, ORICA-AIS has three riders in the top ten. Elvin, who earned six seconds for second place on the stage, sits in second overall, six seconds behind Hosking. Johannson slots into sixth, 19 seconds down. Cromwell is ninth overall at 21 seconds.

“The team rode very well today,” said McPartland. “I’m very happy with how they raced and where we finished in the results. We’re sitting in a good position on the overall at the moment.”

Note: Ladies Tour of Qatar is offering free live online streaming of the final hour of racing each day. The race is covered by Al Jazeera via satellite, cable and freeview. We used this link today to catch the live action: http://www.en.aljazeerasport.tv/Live/channel/global

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